Mar 14

Happy π Day

Pi mathematical constant photo 200px-Pi-unrolled-720_zpsc86fcb4a.gif π (Pi), how could we live without it. So let’s celebrate π on it’s day 3.14.

As you remember from grammar school math, π is the mathematical constant consisting of the main numbers 3, 1 and 4. According to the Wikipedia of π, “it is the the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159.”

It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes written as pi. π is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers (such as 22/7 or other fractions that are commonly used to approximate π); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get on to the party part

It’s earliest known celebration was in California where in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw along with the staff and the public marched around one of its circular spaces eating fruit pies. In 2009. The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution declaring 3.14 π (Pi) Day.

Coincidentally, it is also the birthday of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. So at Princeton University in New Jersey there are numerous celebrations around both events that also include an Albert Einstein look alike contest.

Besides the partying at Princeton, here’s what is going on elsewhere to celebrate this mathematical necessity that drives mathematicians nuts.

In the past, MIT has posted its acceptance letters to high school seniors on Pi Day.

   Attention, Chicago residents: First Slice Pie Café will be giving out free slices of pizza today at 3:14 pm. For readers in the Southeast, pizzas cost $3.14 at Your Pie’s 16 locations across Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.

   The Microsoft store is offering 3.14% off on Dell tablets.

   At Mission High School in California’s Bay Area, students are composing “piems” – poems that have “the same number of letters as the corresponding digit of pi.”

   It’s OK if all of this talk about pi is making you crave pie. Last night, students at Cal Tech hosted a late-night pi-themed pie-eating party. The Pasadena Sun reports: students “dug into 130 pies laid out for them outside student housing. There were 26 each of five different pies. Follow that? So on 3/14 at 1:59 a.m. there were 26 each of five kinds of pie. None is by chance. The first digits of Pi are 3.14159265.”

   After pigging out on pies, you can go on a 3.14 mile bicycle ride in Milwaukee.

   And by the way, if you think all this pie-eating on Pi Day is merely an exercise in bad puns, prepare to have your mind blown.

   In France, British writer Daniel Tammet has kicked off “France’s first Pi Day celebration” at the Palace of Discovery, Paris’s science museum, CNN reports. In 2004, the then-25-year-old recited “22,514 digits of pi from memory” – breaking the European record.

And the founder of π Day, retired physicist Larry Shaw will be at the Exploratorium today leading a “Pi Procession”, in which “Pi partiers will get a yardstick mounted to a pie plate, each with a single digit of pi on it. Then all 500 of them will line up in pi-order” and trot around the “Pi Shrine.”

In 2010’s “Moment of Geek”, Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” featured a math student teacher, Teresa Miller, from the University of New Mexico with a hula hoop and a Rubic’s Cube that was quite amazing.

I was never that energetic as a math student. Teresa should be a great math and phys ed teacher.

So, whatever you do today, every time you see a circle or a pie of any kind remember π

1 comment

    • TMC on March 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm

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